To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Perhaps in the world of parenting, not the easiest question to answer, especially for first-time parents.

The excitement is mounting as the arrival of your little one draws nearer. You imagine the nursery with its soft light and calm white noise. You’ve already pictured a hundred strolls with your uber-fab stroller. You’ve timed feeds in your slick rocking chair, blitzing veggies happily to freeze them in your special food trays, and you picture the most adorable outfits for picture-perfect photography. While these moments are essential to visualise, perhaps you would appreciate a more realistic perspective on what you need, especially in the beginning. Realism, with just the right amount of imagination, separates the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. 

Have a squizz through essentials you should invest in for those first few weeks of your baby’s life.

  • Hospital bag necessities. Surprisingly, most parents think about all they need at home first. However, a crucial day or two involving the actual birth is as important. We advise ensuring you have everything you need for that hospital stay, including: a baby bag, diapers, a couple of vests/onesies, mittens, beanie, receiving blanket, muslin cloth, toiletries for mom, clothing and button-down PJs, underwear for mom, breast pads, nipple cream, going home outfit. In fact, moms, some high-waist workout leggings or anything that has great tummy support will help you feel “put together.”
  • Infant car seat – this is critical in South Africa. They will not discharge you without a car seat that’s correctly fitted in your car. 

  • Nursery essentials: Crib, co-sleeper (your choice of sleeping arrangement, basically). Also, include fitted crib sheets and baby sleeping wedges (or a rolled-up towel will suffice (your mom, midwife or nurse will teach you what to do should you ask). A comfortable chair for feeding, low, soft light to not stimulate the baby at night, A little side table next to the crib for water, a healthy snack like nuts or fruit and something comfortable to read during feeding times. If you’re going to invest in a crib, get one with a changing station attachment, as it makes changing times more manageable).
  • Block-out curtains are a must-have. Add in a nappy bin and a good quality playmat for those tummy time moments, and you’re good to go. A humidifier really does aid in moistening dry air for those tiny little lungs that are adjusting to a new world, and several brands have built-in white noise. If the baby is rooming in, a monitor is unnecessary. It comes in handy if you have a large home and the room is away from yours.
  • Bottles, bibs and burping cloths are essentials, along with soft washcloths, hooded towels and a baby bath (you would be surprised how this alleviates stress). Yes, you need nail clippers (those little nails grow like grass), a nasal aspirator, bum cream and a first aid kit. If you’re breastfeeding, a range of manual and electronic breast pumps are available. 
  • A baby carrier or baby wrap is lovely in those first few weeks. You free up your hands while wearing your baby to keep them calm and settled. 
  • Essential baby toys like soft, texturised books and a soft rattle.
  • A stroller for those all-important outdoor walks. Excellent bit of exercise, and it does wonders for picking up your mood. Your baby will love the motion.

Other things like a high chair, more complex toys or a blender for baby food will only be needed once your little one is a few months old.

Focus on what you and baby will need in the immediate first 3-4 months to make your every day a little easier. Give yourself breathing room to make the right now work as best you can and deal with the rest as it comes.